without. The idea is to attain imperceptible sight movement shot to shot, especially the dot or crosshair in an optical sight. A lighter gun fired offhand, or from a bipod, stays more still with some helpful redirection of gas.

There are several good brakes for AR-15s. I haven't shot them all, but the few I've fired with have all done what they are supposed to do. The AR-15 has so little jump to start with varying effects of various brakes are hard to delineate. Anyone who makes a truly effective compensator for handguns probably also makes a truly effective brake for rifles, and that's a good way to start shopping. The principles at work, and therefore the executions in effect, are more or less the same. I try not to sound like a tourist in these matters, because I know each maker believes his is the best, but I'll say it again anyhow: they're all about the same that they all take

This is an example of a venturi-style brake — a "clamp-on" for those with non-threaded muzzles. In particular it's a Sommers from Smith Enterprises. These are available in varying inside diameters for installation onto most factory-made AR-15s.

This is a compensator-style brake from EGW Inc. It's short, light, and works. The propellant gases impact the large flat areas and this force opposes rifle movement back and upward. The smaller the hole the more gas is directed to the flats. And, the more gas, the greater its effect. Light bullets show off a brake more than heavy bullets. Reason: more propellant behind the lighter bullet. Shown with a crush washer. I sand them down until alignment is what I want.

whatever little bit of AR-15 recoil was left and remove it. There's far more difference shown from different brakes with bigger cartridges.

If there's a muzzlebrake installed it needs to be aligned correctly not only with the bore (decidedly a craftsmanship issue) but also about its own axis. A truly effective muzzlebrake can be oriented to nudge the muzzle one way or the other. This can, and should, be exploited. With a right-hand twist barrel, many find slightly orienting the brake toward the left results in an opposing neutrality helping keep the sight still.

I also say any brake maker claiming his produces blast directed away from the shooter should be better (if it works as well as those lighting up the muzzle like a pipe bomb). Again, it's not rocket science to get an AR-15 devoid of enough excess gas, and redirecting that gas to our benefit, to time warp its manners to the pre-fired stage. Oh, wait a minute. It is rocket science ...

A brake uses a number of venturi routes, some can be elaborate and labyrinthical, to diffuse and redirect excess gases. They are easy to pick out since they have a "drilled full of holes" look about them. When the gas gets going into and through these holes it's getting stripped of its speed and power and that "energy" is going toward reversing the effects of firing-induced rifle movement. When it hits something, in other words, the gas directs its forward thrust toward forward thrust. That's what offsets rearward and upward rifle movement.

A compensator-style brake is essentially a flow stripper with outlets. The gas hits against a flat area with a small hole in its center for the bullet to pass through (it's like a fender washer). That "impact" bumps the rifle forward. There may be a few of these chambers for the bullet to pass through. These appliances usually have large ports cut in their tops or sides, and that small exit hole in the centers of the flat areas. The ports essentially let the gas out; they don't do hardly a thing with respect to reducing muzzle rise. Some look at these and surmise directing the gas out the top produced sufficient propulsion to push the muzzle down. Naw. They don't work in that way, or for that reason. Hitting the flats moves the rifle forward, pulling it toward the target in effect.

Shameless plug: Information in this article was adapted from

- The Competitive AR-15: The

Ultimate Technical Guide, published by Zediker Publishing. Glen Zediker has worked professionally with some of the greatest shooters as well as leading industry rifle builders, manufacturers, and authorities on gunsmithing, barrelmaking, parts design and manufacture and handloading. Glen is an NRA High Master in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR-15 Service Rifle. Visit or call (662) 473-6107. £¡¡2)


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